Dear America, We Are Failing Our Children

children at school

Another school shooting. ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING. How many more times are we going to say this? How many more times are we going to read headlines like “Texas school shooting kills 10″?  This should be our No. 1 priority. Children in this country are killing other children – in America, on our soil, in droves, in public schools run by our government. Let’s find out why this keeps happening – and how it can be stopped.

Children are dying. This is the greatest public health crisis of our time. Let’s give it the same amount of attention that’s devoted to other life-threatening issues. This epidemic should be studied. It should be analyzed. There should be someone in charge of uncovering answers and finding solutions, just like during any other crisis. There should be someone in a top government position, appointed to work on this day and night. Because tragic shootings just keep happening. And sadly, they aren’t going to stop unless something is done about it. 

There has been, on average, 1 school shooting every week this year. We’re only 21 weeks into 2018, and there have already been 23 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. Are you kidding me? People have to keep track of this stuff now. That’s how often it happens.

We don’t fully understand why this is happening. But something isn’t working. Something isn’t right. Something is broken because children should not feel so angry or so hopeless that they have to walk into school and kill other children. They should be playing, reading, talking, laughing, running, jumping, and everything else children typically do. And when they do fall down, and they need help, there should be healthy resources available to get them back up again. They should NOT be killing each other.

We don’t know if this is a gun-control issue or a mental-health issue, but it’s probably a combination of both. We’re also wondering if this is a symptom of our achievement-driven educational system. Are we so concerned about how kids are doing academically that we neglect their mental, social, and emotional well-being? Shouldn’t this be a priority? If a child is suffering on the inside, how can he or she perform on the outside? We seem so concerned about the numbers, the test scores, and if we are ahead of other countries. If it’s all about test scores, then teachers will focus more on the numbers. That’s how teachers are reviewed and rewarded. We are, by no means, blaming teachers. They are victims of the system, a system that focuses on the wrong things. Teachers are supposed to look out for the best interests of our children, help them grow and learn. How can they focus on individualized learning in a system that doesn’t care, a system heavily influenced by faceless numbers and test scores?

Since the government wants to be so involved in our education system, then it’s their responsibility to make sure it’s working. And we all know it’s not. Schools desperately need funding. Teachers need funding, and mental-health professionals need funding. If everyone in Washington sat down and put their heads together, they could figure out a way to shift things around to better prioritize education – our children, our future! This is a public-health crisis that needs to be dealt with NOW. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now.

Did you know that mental-health professionals have one of the lowest-paid positions in schools? No wonder they don’t want to work in education. In this day and age of social media, mounting peer pressures, and tougher academic standards, mental-health professionals need to have a more important role in schools. So many kids require mental-health help and have no other way to get it. Cyber bullying is on the rise. Violent video games are flooding kids’ basements. Getting into college is harder than ever. The teen suicide rate is alarmingly high. The gravity of what these kids have to deal with today is mind blowing – and much harder than it used to be.

We are terrified. We are terrified of sending our children to school. We don’t care how they are doing academically – we just want them to come home alive.

It’s time to start listening to our children. They are crying out for help, looking for solutions, for real leadership.

“If us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it’s time to start doing something.”   ~ Emma Gonzalez, February 17, 2018

This is not a rant America. This is a battle cry. 

 

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